One-two home victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing

12 September 2022

Toyota Gazoo Racing achieved a perfect one-two victory in the 6 Hours of Fuji on Sunday (11 September) to celebrate the return of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to Japan in impressive style.

Fuji Speedway was hosting a WEC race for the first time since 2019. Toyota Gazoo Racing were able to take the opportunity to strengthen their World Championship challenge in a memorable homecoming that saw the GR010 Hybrid Hypercar winning on its Japanese debut.

Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa delivered a flawless performance in the No8 GR010 Hybrid to earn their second victory of the season, adding to their Le Mans 24 Hours triumph and giving the team their eighth win in nine races.

World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took second place in their No7 GR010 HYBRID, 1min 8.382secs behind, to complete a hard-earned clean sweep in the penultimate round of the 2022 WEC season.

Maximum points bring Toyota Gazoo Racing a step closer to retaining their manufacturers’ World Championship, extending their lead to 26 over Alpine, who finished third at Fuji. The No8 crew are now level on points at the top of the drivers’ standings heading into the final race.

An enthusiastic saw Kobayashi in the pole position No7 lead the field away on a hot, sunny day. He established a slender advantage over Buemi in the No8 car as the GR010 Hybrids set the tone for the race.

Just a few seconds separated the two Toyotas during the first hour, which ended with both pitting for two new tyres and more fuel. Kobayashi retained the lead in the No7 but Buemi was gradually closing the gap and moved into the lead on lap 64.

As the two-hour mark approached, Kobayashi handed over to López. A lap later, Hartley took the wheel of the No8 and resumed with a six-second lead, with the third-placed Alpine more than 50 seconds behind. Hartley began to build a comfortable margin at the front and extended his advantage over López to 10 seconds at next round of pit stops, which came at half distance. By the time of the next driver changes, with just under two hours remaining, Hartley had a decisive 30-second lead.

Hirakawa, already a winner at Fuji Speedway this season in Super Formula, took the wheel of the No8 as Conway replaced López in the No7 for the final stretch. With a one-lap advantage over the third-placed Alpine, the GR010 Hybrids controlled the remainder of the race, taking no unnecessary risks.

After 232 laps without safety car or full course yellow, Hirakawa took the chequered flag to secure Toyota Gazoo Racing’s third victory of the season, its 37th from 75 hybrid-powered WEC races since 2012. Conway followed 1min 8.382 seconds later, completing the team’s second one-two of the season.

The fight for both World Championships therefore goes to the final race of the season, when Bahrain International Circuit hosts an eight-hour race on 12 November.

Akio Toyota (Team Founder): “Our home WEC race was held for the first time in three years and our GR010 Hybrid was able to drive at Fuji Speedway for the first time. Thank you to everyone who made such a strong effort to hold this event.

“At Fuji Speedway, the fans were cheering us one, saying ‘welcome back!’ We are really glad that we were able to respond to that great support with a one-two finish and say that ‘we’re home’.

“I would like to thank all the team members, including Team Principal Kamui. Thank you all.

“Earlier in the race week the drivers told me they want to drive a car with a hydrogen engine and joined me to experience this.

“Sébastien Buemi sent me these words after driving the hydrogen car: ‘I believe that the sound and vibration of internal combustion engines must never be eliminated. In that sense, the vision presented by Mr Morizo is wonderful. I’m really excited to see where this development will go in the future. I definitely want to race in a hydrogen engine racing car!’

“Racing drivers have experienced a variety of cars and I would like to continue working with them to create technologies that keep them excited. Drivers, let’s enjoy the ‘sound and vibration of internal combustion engines’ together again!”

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car No7): “The 6 Hours of Fuji is a very important race and this was the best possible result for Toyota Gazoo Racing. Everybody in the team worked so hard for this and did a great job, with no mistakes; I am very proud of everyone. The competition is intense in Hypercar but our race went really smoothly. We had a strong performance, which is a result of the big effort from the team, as well as great support from the Toyota family and all our partners. Thank you to the fans who cheered for us; it has been a fantastic experience to race here at Fuji Speedway again, especially in such brilliant weather. This part of our job is done and now we focus on Bahrain, where we are pushing to win both World Championships. This is important for us so we will keep our focus and do our best.”

Mike Conway (driver, car No7): “The team did a good job today to get a one-two in our home race, which is what we wanted to achieve. After Le Mans, Fuji is the most important race for us, so we have met our target and delivered a perfect team result. We couldn’t do much more on our car today. Car No8 was just a bit quicker so we couldn’t challenge them but we had a clean race and made no mistakes. Well done to car No8 for the victory, congratulations to Toyota Gazoo Racing and all our partners for this great result and thanks to the fans for their support all week.”

José María López (driver, car No7): “This is a great result for the whole team. This race is really important for us and we worked so hard for it. The lap times today don’t reflect how hard the competition has been with the other Hypercars. The team executed a perfect race, I am very happy for everyone. Congratulations to car No8 for the win. Obviously on our car we are not super happy because we didn’t win, but that’s normal and I think we did some good stints. It’s been a tough year on our side of the garage, so we go to Bahrain determined to finish 2022 on a high note and to help the team win both World Championships.”

Sébastien Buemi (driver, car No8): “I am really happy with this result, especially winning Toyota Gazoo Racing’s home race after three years away from Japan. We had a clean race and it was perfectly executed; there were no mistakes, our pit stops were great and everything went to plan. We couldn’t do any more so thanks a lot to the team for this, particularly Ryo who has been amazing this week. It has gone very well for us and to be in the joint lead of the World Championship going into Bahrain gives us a big chance. We will do everything we can to end the season with the same result.”

Brendon Hartley (driver, car No8): “We had an amazing car today and the race was incredibly smooth; it doesn’t often happen like that. On our car we saw the track temperatures were likely to be high so we went a different direction on set-up and it worked, we were a bit quicker than the sister car. Séb did a strong first stint then I was able to build a gap and Ryo drove well at the end. It was one of those races where everything just worked perfectly. Big thanks to the engineering team and the mechanics; as a crew we were very strong. Now the World Championship fight comes down to Bahrain, which is pretty cool.”

Ryo Hirakawa (driver, car No8): “Fuji is my home track and the place where I grew up as a racing driver, so it is emotional to win here in a World Championship race. After winning Le Mans, I came here and really wanted to win my home race, so I felt a bit of pressure. But the whole team did a great job. I enjoyed my two stints and it was a great feeling to take the chequered flag. Now we are joint leaders of the World Championship and I think we are in good shape going into the last race of the season. We will enjoy this result tonight and then focus on winning the World Championship in Bahrain.”

6 Hours of Fuji – Result

1st   No8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing                                       232 laps

2nd ​ No7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  ​​​                                     +1min 8.382secs​​         

3rd ​ No36 Alpine Elf Team (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxiviere)        +2 laps​​  

4th ​ No93 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Di Resta/Jensen/Vergne)  +7 laps

5th ​ No31 WRT (Galael/Frijns/Vanthoor)                             +7 laps

6th ​ No38 JOTA (Gonzalez/Da Costa/Stevens)                     +8 laps


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One-two home victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing


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